By Paula Hendrickson
It’s no secret. I love knitting. And I love TV.
I’ve written about independently-produced TV shows before—like the Australian supernatural drama Sonnigsburg and the Rock River Valley’s retro-zombie sitcom The Deadersons—but this week I’m excited about the debut of a crowdfunded webseries about knitting.
The entire first season of The Knit Show with Vickie Howell will be available on YouTube starting October 5. Here’s what Howell—who hosted DIY’s Knitty Gritty and PBS’ Knitting Daily with Vickie Howell—had to say when I asked her about the new show:
How and when did the idea to try crowdsourcing a new knitting show originate?
Over the years as craft-based television shows have disappeared, I’ve received messages from viewers – without exaggeration – almost EVERY DAY about how much they miss having a television series that speaks directly to us – the knitting & crochet community. I want people to know I’d heard them, and had been working behind-the-scenes for a while to try to make more knitting television happen. During that time the age of entertainment evolved. Television and cable networks either focus on reality programming or scripted series and there isn’t currently a place at the table for niche, how-to programming. So, I decided it was time to make our own table! I had this idea of a high-quality, lifestyle, how-to show that was for the community and by the community. To make that happen, Kickstarter seemed the natural choice.
What was your first reaction when you learned the campaign exceeded its goal?
Utter relief. I had a production team donating their time to help make the campaign videos; small knitting business owners offering whatever they could to help the campaign be successful; and friends and family showing their support. I felt a (self-imposed) responsibility to them, and in a way, to my craft community to meet the goal and make this project happen. I was so relieved not to let them down!
My second thought was, “Holy @$#!, now I need to make a TV show!” 😉
What made this the right time to make The Knit Show as a digital/streamed series?
Other than what I mentioned earlier about where programming is right now, I also believe that, because of the internet, we’re at this fascinating stage of societal accessibility which allows for our community to span the globe. When I first started hosting TV shows in the genre, our audience was finite — bound by the constraints of a national network. Fourteen years later, however, we have streaming services (YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) that are available to craft enthusiasts across the world. The ability to connect and engage with that community — both in our backyard, and on the other side of the world — is an incredible gift. Why not embrace it?
How, if at all, did making The Knit Show differ from working on Knitty Gritty or Knitting Daily?
Other than the use of the basic formula commonly used to create DIY lifestyle shows, everything else about the making of this series was a different experience for me. Unlike the other shows, I’m not only the host and producer of The Knit Show, but also the creator and one of the executive producers. That means being involved in every decision, from theme song and graphics, to wardrobe procurement and set design, to episode structure and guest bookings. It was hard work, but also a ton of fun! Thanks to ProductionFor I had a team of talented and creative people surrounding me who, for whatever reason, believed in a quirky redhead and her show about knitting and crochet. I’m so grateful!
Once the funding was in place, how long did it take to go into production—and produce the first season?
The Kickstarter campaign finished at the end of April, at which point we immediately went into pre-production. From there we went into field-piece production (an out-of-studio segment featured in every episode) starting at the end of May, then studio production at the end of July, and finally post production starting in August. We went from funding to production to premiere all in under six months!
What’s your ultimate goal for The Knit Show?
I hope that The Knit Show is just the beginning of a broader picture for the craft industry, and for the niche of quality how-to, streaming programs. I hope it inspires a community to be creative and the community leans into the experience of watching a show, as well as interacts online, and potentially creates local and global meet-ups around it. I hope that it as a series, thrives so that we can keep making more shows — either independently, or in partnership with a larger, streaming service. R.
Starting Thursday, you can view The Knit Show at youtube.com/theknitshowwithvickiehowell.